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African Union vs. International Criminal Court Showdown Brewing

african-union-map-flagShould The African Union withdraw from the International Criminal Court?

According to the Voice of America, the chairwoman of the African Union Commission signaled Tuesday that she could ask the United Nations Security Council for a deferral of the International Criminal Court case against Kenya’s leaders.

Diplomats with knowledge of the private meeting said that AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told a visiting Security Council delegation that the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy president, William Ruto, should be deferred for one year.

Dlamin-Zuma cited the recent terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, saying the Kenyan leaders needed to focus their attention on the country’s security and could not afford to be away at The Hague-based court for weeks at a time.

Kenya’s Threat to Withdraw

According to the Daily Maverick: “An ‘extraordinary summit’ of the African Union  has been scheduled in Addis Ababa for October 11-12 to discuss the possibility of a pull-out by the 34 African signatories to the Rome Statute that created the tribunal.”

The start of the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto for crimes against humanity – with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial due in November – has fueled a growing backlash against the Hague -based court from some African governments, which have lambasted the court as a tool of Western powers.

The summit this week follows a motion passed by Kenya’s upper and lower houses of Parliament last month to withdraw from the ICC.

The parliamentary decision has yet to be formally turned into law, but Kenyan officials have been fiercely lobbying for support of a broader African withdrawal from the Hague-based court.

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